My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As we know, Advent is a season of waiting and preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.
And in our liturgies during this holy season, the Church centers our attention on two figures — the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. They are the “face” of Advent. Together they show us how to prepare for Christ’s coming into our world and into our lives.
So our Gospel reading today for this second Sunday in Advent presents us with the figure and the person of St. John the Baptist.
Our Gospel gives us lot of details about John’s background — about his parents and the time and place of his ministry. This is to help us understand why John is so important.
John the Baptist marks the turning point in the history of salvation. He stands at the threshold — between the world before Jesus Christ and the world after his coming.
He is the last and the greatest of the prophets. And he was the first to directly proclaim Jesus Christ and to herald his coming as our Savior.
All the prophets had awaited this salvation. That is what we learn from our first reading today, from the prophet Baruch.
This is a glorious passage of Scripture, as we heard.
Baruch brings Israel the beautiful promise of redemption. He describes the natural landscape being changed. The physical world being transformed. He tells us that mountains will be made low and valleys will be filled in.
Baruch promises that one day God will remember his people and lead them out of captivity. He promises that God will walk with them by the light of his glory with his mercy and justice.
This is the splendor of salvation that St. John the Baptist is sent to announce. In the coming of Jesus, God fulfills all the promises of the prophets.
And God sends St. John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, to make a straight path for his coming. His baptism is a baptism of preparation. A baptism of repentance that prepares for the Baptism of “new birth” that Jesus will bring.
St. John the Baptist shows us that our faith must embrace and engage our whole life. We can’t just be “part-time” Christians. God wants all of us. All of our heart and mind and all of our strength.
The faith we profess here on Sundays must be lived out in the world during the rest of the week! We have to be a “voice” for Jesus and the values of his Gospel — in our homes, in our schools, in the places where we work, in all our service in our community.
We have a responsibility for the Gospel, my brothers and sisters. We have a responsibility for the mission of his Church. As St. John the Baptist did, we are called to prepare others to meet Jesus and to see his salvation.
This is what St. Paul is talking about in this morning’s second reading. He tells us that each of us is called to a partnership for the Gospel.
So today as we continue our Advent journey, we are called to examine our lives in light of the example of St. John the Baptist.
We need to ask God for the grace to root out our selfishness. For the grace to forget about ourselves and have a true concern for those around us. What should matter is not us, but Jesus!
We also want to remember that today is the feast day of St. Juan Diego. So we want to invoke his intercession for us and for our families and loved ones. Like St. John the Baptist, St. Juan Diego is also a great example for us because he devoted his life totally to bearing witness to Our Lady of Guadalupe and her message of love.
And I want to remind you that this week, in this Year of Faith, we are starting a new tradition at the Cathedral to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On Tuesday evening we will celebrate las mañanitas — a beautiful festival of songs and worship that will lead up to the holy Mass that I will offer here at midnight on her feast day of December 12.
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a beautiful sign of God’s love for us and his “nearness” to us. So this will be a special night. I hope that many of you can make this a part of your devotions in this holy season.
Finally this morning, we want to pray for our newest California bishop. The new bishop of Orange will be installed tomorrow. He is Bishop Kevin Vann and he will be a good neighbor and a great shepherd for the family of God in Orange.
So we entrust him and his ministry — as we entrust all our families — to the care and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May she guide all of us as we seek to follow her Son with new faith and new devotion.
1. Readings (Second Sunday in Advent, Year C): Bar. 5:1-9; Ps. 126:1-6; Phil. 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6.